Luc Besson’s Lucy is simply awesome
Lucy was so remarkably unexpected I was nearly speechless as I left the theatre. I have started paying such little attention to film advertisements that I completely missed who made this film. It is possible that the American marketing arm of Universal Pictures decided the name Luc Besson was not as big a draw as Scarlett Johansson. In fairness, they might be right, his track record is not the most consistent, but when he writes and directs more often than not the result is spectacular.
Before I get into why I liked this film and why I think, it was so spectacular I need to address the elephant in the room. The staring premise that humans only use 10% of our brain capacity is verifiably false. It is an old myth that won’t go away. For this film to work, we must first suspend our disbelief and proceed on the understanding that we are in a universe where the myth is truth. One we are there, we can enjoy some very nicely constructed science fiction.
Lucy, in premise and in execution, is expertly constructed. Delivering a film that looks as feels genuinely original, even where it is not. The scientific basis for the film, which we already dismissed as completely fictitious, is set up such that it sounds plausible enough to work. In these few respects, the premise is almost laughably simple. The very beginning of the film we are only three simple steps away from the cataclysmic event that propels Lucy into her growing transcendence. The time we save in exposition, and pre-change character development, is spent enjoying a lot of well-crafted action, and pseudo-science delivered with Besson’s dry French wit.
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is young student living in Taipei Taiwan whose new boyfriend strong-arms her into delivering a briefcase (obviously full of drugs) to known drug lord, Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik). This naturally doesn’t end well, and she is kidnapped and forcefully turned into one of several drug mules. A sizable package of a new synthetic drug is surgically placed inside her abdominal cavity where it will be removed once they reach their final destination. Lucy has one small problem, before she leaves one of the guards kicks her in the stomach, breaking open the package of drugs inside her. This drug has the unexpected side effect of gradually “unlocking” her brain capacity giving her an impressive array of new abilities. Once she uses these new super human abilities to escape she tracks down Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) who has been hypothesizing, and researching the implications of a fully unlocked human brain. Lucy is now in a race to reach Professor Norman so he can help her, and to recover the rest of the drugs with the help of French police officer Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked), all before Mr. Jang catches up to her.
Lucy is a terrific character, driven by a playful and intelligent story. Fortunately, Scarlett Johansson’s usual rigidity in her performance worked perfectly for the character. Her performance was fun, and solid, but I didn’t see anything from Johansson that she brought to the character that any number of lesser-known actors could have. That is not to say I was not perfectly content with the way she executed the part, I don’t know that anyone I could pick would do it better.
The real treasures of this film would be spoilers, so I will not talk about those. Really, the majority of things I would want to talk about I can’t. You should go see this movie, and then we can talk.
Lucy 5 out of 5 I couldn’t ask for anything more from a science fiction action film, my favorite film of the year so far.